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Information on Anemia

Anemia means that the blood cannot carry as much oxygen as it should, either because of a reduced number of red blood cells or a reduced amount of hemoglobin in those cells.  Normal blood is 40 to 45 percent red cells and 55 to 60 percent plasma.  On the average there are 12.5 to 14 grams of hemoglobin per 100 milliliters of blood.  The normal red-cell count is 4.5 to 5.5 million cells per cubic millimeter.  All these values tend to be 10 percent lower in women.


In anemia there is either a reduced amount of hemoglobin in each of the red blood cells or else the total number of red cells is less than usual.  In either case the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced and the tissues suffer.  Strangely, when there is an excess of red blood cells, the tissues may also suffer for lack of oxygen.  In this case the difficulty is that with a high population of red cells the blood becomes syrupy and moves so slowly that it cannot deliver its oxygen quickly.


Anemia may result from improper formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow.  A small amount of vitamin B12 is necessary for the cells to mature, and iron combined with protein is needed so that each cell may receive its hemoglobin.  Anemias resulting from failure of this system are called anemias of production.  Other anemias occur when red blood cells are destroyed prematurely.  These are called hemolytic anemias.  When red blood cells are lost because of bleeding, the resulting anemia is called anemia of hemorrhage, or secondary anemia.  Finally, anemia due to damage of the bone marrow (where the red blood cells are produced) is called aplastic anemia.


More Articles on Blood Diseases


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